Cinecittà Studios Ink Backlot Expansion Deal Crucial For Revamp

Italy’s Cinecittà Studios has signed a preliminary agreement with state bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti to acquire a plot of land adjacent to the Rome filming facilities. The land will give them space to roughly triple the backlot and build several new sound stages.

Under the deal Cinecittà, which is undergoing a radical revamp, will gain more than 70 acres of land that will allow for construction of eight additional sound stages on the new space and provide film and TV productions with more than 30 acres of additional open-air backlot to shoot on.

The vast expansion will allow Cinecittà to “fill a gap with its competitors in continental Europe,” according to a Cinecittà statement which called the long-gestating land expansion agreement key to giving Cinecittà “global attractive capacity.”

Financial terms of the Cinecittà-CDP deal, which is expected to be finalized by October 2022, were not disclosed.

The Cinecittà Studios revamp has been underway since May under the leadership of Nicola Maccanico, a former Warner Bros. and Sky Italia senior exec. Maccanico came on board in April as Cinecittà managing director with a mandate from Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini to turn the iconic Rome studios into continental Europe’s top filming facilities thanks to a €300 million ($339) million) investment from the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery fund.

Maccanico has since been busy trying to give Cinecittà a greater competitive edge against other prominent European facilities such as Germany’s Studio Babelsberg, Hungary’s Origo Studios, and Nu Boyana in Bulgaria.

He has started overhauling several of Cinecittà’s existing 19 sound stages and getting five new stages built on the current Cinecittà lot while also devising a five-year financial plan under which Maccanico expects Cinecittà to start turning a profit in 2023.

Under this plan a large LED smart stage, which is being touted as Europe’s largest LED wall, will be ready in early 2022, as will a green screen studio for motion capture and 3D shoots. 

Over the past six months, the studios have reached almost 80% occupancy, having lured international productions including MGM’s “House of Gucci,” Sky’s ancient Rome skein “Domina,” and upcoming Showtime series “Ripley.”

Cinecittà, which has full-service facilities, including editing suites, sound mix, and 35mm film processing, has been benefitting from Italy’s generous 40% tax rebate, which was raised from 30% during the pandemic.

Meanwhile for 2022 roughly 80% of available Cinecittà space is already booked with three undisclosed large-scale international productions set to arrive soon on its backlot that clearly had to expand in order to aspire to the prominence Maccanico is seeking to attain.